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Pathogens ; 11(8)2022 Aug 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1969405

ABSTRACT

In this study, we show that the coronavirus (CoV) genome may encode many functional hydrophobic alpha-helical peptides (HAHPs) in overlapping reading frames of major coronaviral proteins throughout the entire viral genome. These HAHPs can theoretically be expressed from non-canonical sub-genomic (sg)RNAs that are synthesized in substantial amounts in infected cells. We selected and analyzed five and six HAHPs encoded in the S gene regions of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), respectively. Two and three HAHPs derived from SARS-CoV-2 and MERS-CoV, respectively, specifically interacted with both the SARS-CoV-2 and MERS-CoV S proteins and inhibited their membrane fusion activity. Furthermore, one of the SARS-CoV-2 HAHPs specifically inhibited viral RNA synthesis by accumulating at the site of viral RNA synthesis. Our data show that a group of HAHPs in the coronaviral genome potentially has a regulatory role in viral propagation.

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